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Where to Put Bear Canister at Night


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  • #1329611
    John
    BPL Member

    @johnnyh88

    Locale: The SouthWest

    I am curious what people do with their bear canister at night. Do you keep it close to your camp, so you can scare off any bears that go after your canister? Do you store it farther away? Do you stash it in a bush or otherwise secure it to keep it from rolling away? I'm going to be using a bear canister for the first time in a couple weeks, and I realized I hadn't thought much about this.

    I would imagine the answer will vary by what type of bears you expect to encounter. Mine will be for black bears.

    #2204928
    Hikin’ Jim
    BPL Member

    @hikin_jim

    Locale: Orange County, CA, USA

    John,

    I think the typical advice is to store it away from your camp. There's really no reason to try to run off the bears. They can't get in 99.9% of the time, and if you do get that 0.1% (or whatever that number really is; I'm using 0.1% as an illustration of "very low") gear failure, once they've got your food, you're just not going to drive them off.

    I usually put my 100' away from my camp in a spot where it's unlikely to roll off a cliff or into a river. I wouldn't sweat it a lot.

    HJ
    Adventures In Stoving
    Hikin' Jim's Blog

    #2204931
    Bob Gross
    BPL Member

    @b-g-2-2

    Locale: Silicon Valley

    I always store my bear canister a short distance from where I sleep. That distance is equal to the flash range on my camera. I want to get a night shot of the bear fooling with it. That distance is anywhere from 10 feet to 100 feet depending on which camera and which flash unit I use.

    You do not want the bear to roll it away or over a cliff. So, it is a good idea to wedge it in between some boulders, or plunk it down in a thick bush. You absolutely do not want to put it inside anything like a bag, because then the bear could grab it up in his teeth and walk off with it.

    There was a bad report from a backpacker who had stopped along the John Muir Trail between Muir Pass and LeConte Canyon. He left several days worth of food in his bear canister and placed it 100 feet or so away from where he slept. In the morning, somebody had stolen all of the food out of the canister except for one food bar. So, the backpacker had to leave the trail early and not complete his trip. Thieves should be shot. Still, that is a good reason to keep your bear canister closer to you.

    –B.G.–

    #2204944
    Ralph Burgess
    BPL Member

    @ralphbge

    Yes, the only food I've ever lost to an animal was also to an animal with opposable thumbs.

    With Black Bears, is there really any reason NOT to keep the bearcan close by? Aside from not wanting to be woken up or given a fright in the middle of the night, of course. Does it create any real danger?

    I tend to do what Bob does. I'm not going to keep it 5 feet away, just because it would be disconcerting to be woken up by a bear 5 feet away. But 10-20 feet seems fine.

    #2204960
    Lori P
    BPL Member

    @lori999

    Locale: Central Valley

    There is absolutely a reason to drive off bears. Bears figure things out – like how to break into canisters. There's one on the Snow Creek trail in Yosemite that flings them off cliffs. There's another in Kings Canyon that pops lids off Bear Vaults.

    Where the bears are really pesky, I pile granite around and on the canister as an early warning system, and we all get up to drive them away. Bears invaded camp 2-3 times per night between Donahue Pass and Reds Meadow. I'd rather not have to fish my not-waterproof canister out of the bottom of a river, or look for it in brush, or not find it at all.

    #2204962
    Bob Gross
    BPL Member

    @b-g-2-2

    Locale: Silicon Valley

    If you happen to be a photographer and you want to get the night photo of the bear staring at your bear canister, then I can recommend an aid.

    Get some jingle bells like you might use at Christmas. The hobby/craft stores sell them. Tie about four or five of them on a strong black nylon thread along 10-15 feet of length. Then when you are set for the night, put your canister (let's say) twenty feet out. Attach one end of the thread to the canister, and the other end to a tree or a bush. Or, figure out where an intruder bear is going to walk and tie the thread across that path. When the bear approaches, the jingle bells jingle, and you can wake up and grab your camera.

    Jingle bells and thread don't weigh much.

    –B.G.–

    #2204967
    Hikin’ Jim
    BPL Member

    @hikin_jim

    Locale: Orange County, CA, USA

    There is absolutely a reason to drive off bears. Bears figure things out – like how to break into canisters. There's one on the Snow Creek trail in Yosemite that flings them off cliffs. There's another in Kings Canyon that pops lids off Bear Vaults.

    Oh, great. Bears can pop the lid off of a BV? I didn't know that. :(

    HJ
    Adventures in Stoving
    Hikin Jim's Blog

    #2204972
    Billy Ray
    Spectator

    @rosyfinch

    Locale: the mountains

    You really don't want bears near you.
    They have been known to panic when surprised.
    They can panic and take wild swipes at people with their claws.
    They can (and have) charged people when scare and run right over them, knocking the person(s) down and clawing them in the process.
    Best to put the canister away from your tent a safe distance.

    billy

    #2204988
    Morgan H
    Member

    @photofeature

    Locale: Eastern Missouri

    I place mine roughly 100ft from my camp, where I can see it from my camp if possible. Sometimes, if I'm in an area that has reports of lots of bears, I'll stack some things on top of my canister that will make noise and wake me if they fall so that I can get up and chase the bear off. Given enough time and enough chances, bears can figure out how to open the canisters.

    Also, it is NOT advised to wedge your canister tightly between rocks/tree branches/etc. This can give the bear leverage against the canister, sometimes making it possible for them to get the canister open. Just make sure you place it in an area that it won't have far to roll. A couple pieces of neon reflective tape make it pretty easy to find if it does get knocked around.

    #2204993
    Bob Gross
    BPL Member

    @b-g-2-2

    Locale: Silicon Valley

    "Also, it is NOT advised to wedge your canister tightly between rocks/tree branches/etc. This can give the bear leverage against the canister, sometimes making it possible for them to get the canister open."

    Where did you get this crazy idea?

    –B.G.–

    #2204996
    Morgan H
    Member

    @photofeature

    Locale: Eastern Missouri

    I believe the Bearikade website FAQ says something to this effect. This is also what I was told by rangers at RMNP. It makes sense; the canisters are designed with smooth surfaces and rounded edges so that bears have a hard time getting any leverage to get it open.

    #2204998
    Bob Gross
    BPL Member

    @b-g-2-2

    Locale: Silicon Valley

    Bearikade suggests that you do not try to secure it in place. It used to be that people put a bear canister inside a sack (which is a bad idea) or tried to tie it to a tree (another bad idea). Bearikade does not state anything about putting it in the rocks.

    Note that the Bearikade units are about the lightest weight canisters on the market. Even though they are strong, I would not like to see a sharp rock get pounded into the outer wall. It might get bad results.

    Bearikade is only one brand, and most of the other (heavier) units are even more rounded.

    I own five different bear canisters representing four brands. I've been using some of these for over 15 years with good results. However, maybe the RMNP bears know something different.

    –B.G.–

    #2205013
    David Thomas
    BPL Member

    @davidinkenai

    Locale: North Woods. Far North.

    >"once they've got your food, you're just not going to drive them off."

    I am.

    I have.

    The human ability to throw is almost unique in the animal kingdom. A fist-sized piece of granite, thrown fast, is hard to ignore.

    Black bears only.

    #2205026
    John
    BPL Member

    @johnnyh88

    Locale: The SouthWest

    Thanks for the replies. I will probably end up putting my canister around 50-100ft away, or wherever I can find a good spot. Maybe with some rocks piled on top or around it. That seems close enough that I'll wake up if a bear is going at it (or at least my dog will wake me up), but far enough away to be decently safe.

    #2205049
    Bill Law
    BPL Member

    @williamlaw

    Locale: SF Bay Area

    I once heard about hikers that set their bear can aways from camp. The next day they couldn't find it. Died of starvation. Bodies weren't recovered until the next spring.

    I've never seen a bear in the wilderness in the Sierra. But I guess talking about incredibly rare events on the Internet is all the fun we get on weekends when unable to test these theories in the laboratory of real life.

    Your dog will keep the bears away.

    #2205061
    M B
    BPL Member

    @livingontheroad

    Mine averages about 10-15 ft. With rocks stacked on it.

    Mr. or Mrs. Bear knows exactly where you are, how many of you there are, what you ate for dinner, and how long its been since you bathed.

    The only thing locating a cannister away from you does, is give the bear unfetterred access to it. If the bear wants YOU, it knows where to get you.

    #2205062
    Valerie E
    BPL Member

    @wildtowner

    Locale: Grand Canyon State

    Someone said: "I've never seen a bear in the wilderness in the Sierra."

    Neither have I, but a couple of times I've found steaming, hot, fresh bear scat only a few yards from my tent in the morning. "incredibly rare"? I dunno, you draw your own conclusion from the (admittedly) circumstantial evidence!

    I'm with MB — the bears know. You're in THEIR house.

    #2205075
    W I S N E R !
    BPL Member

    @xnomanx

    Almost had mine rolled into Tyndall Creek off the JMT. That could've been interesting.

    I usually put my cookpot on top with a rock in it…low tech alarm so I can hear if it's being disturbed. I've never been too worried about placing it that far from me. 20 feet, max.

    #2205113
    Paul McLaughlin
    BPL Member

    @paul-1

    Definitely in a spot where they can't roll it away. I like low bushes for that reason, and I look for a slight depression if possible. I have had Yosemite bears come through my camp and not touch the Bearikade – apparently they know what it is and they know not to wast any time on it.

    #2205252
    Charley White
    Member

    @charleywhite

    Locale: Petaluma, CA

    I see bears often enough in the Sierra. I go with Ranger Nina's advice, she of SEKI bear program: this is the bear's woods, but it is YOUR campground! Say that loudly and angrily and mean it. Also said to throw something if yelling doesn't work. To do less is to train the wrong thing into the bear, IMO, and bad for it. I tend to locate the canister near the perimeter of my campground bubble. I do not want the bear only 10-15ft away when it awakens me. It's bad enough my shoes are only a hiking pole's length away. (She said she woke up once with a bear sniffing her boots, which were right next to her.)

    #2205727
    Steve B
    BPL Member

    @geokite

    Locale: Southern California

    Yes, they learn. With a proper bear can, they learn they can't get in it. And they ignore it.

    One of the best reasons to use a canister is to let them waste their time with it while you sleep. Have at it bear. I've had bears investigate my camp and not even touch the canister. They know not to waste their time with it. Isn't that what we want them to learn?

    Steve

    #2206035
    karl hafner
    BPL Member

    @khafner

    Locale: upstate NY

    I like to keep the canister somewhat in sight and definitely within hearing distance. I have watched chipmunks eat thru the old barrel style plastic bear vaults in under 90 minutes. Have the photos to prove it. They may keep bears out but a chipmunk can do as much damage to your food as a bear. Have since gone to the carbon fiber aluminum vaults. I prefer the bags if allowed. Can't say about bears but no chipmunks have yet gotten into the bags.

    #2206038
    Bob Gross
    BPL Member

    @b-g-2-2

    Locale: Silicon Valley

    "Have the photos to prove it."

    Karl, please show us the photos.

    –B.G.–

    #2206053
    Bean
    BPL Member

    @stupendous-2

    Locale: California

    "Have the photos to prove it."

    Karl, please show us the photos.

    –B.G.–

    +1

    I'd really be curious to see those too.

    #2206057
    Bean
    BPL Member

    @stupendous-2

    Locale: California

    I usually put my cookpot on top with a rock in it…low tech alarm so I can hear if it's being disturbed. I've never been too worried about placing it that far from me. 20 feet, max.

    Same.

    I love hearing a clatter and then blasting a light in the eyes of bear frozen in place. They are like a 6 year old caught putting their finger in frosting. Although, more often than not, even when I know there is a bear, they don't touch my alarm system… I think they are wise to it.

    I keep my can out 100 feet when possible, as I don't want to be woken up by a ranger scolding me.

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